Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let the (in)action begin

I often think there is too much talk, and not enough action. This is as true of me as it is of anyone who routinely sits and types out a few random thoughts. Routinely probably doesn’t mean once in the last three months with regard to this blog, but that’s how things go sometimes, life & work takes over.

With the start of a new year I thought it might be best to try and summarise the problems currently inherent within the entertainment industry in order to focus my own mind as well as anyone else’s.

Naturally it won’t be comprehensive and I don’t have the answers to all the problems but over the last year it has become clear that there are a few fundamental issues which refuse to go away. I hope to note these on a day-by-day basis over the next week, to avoid boring you to death. Here are two for starters:

Price:

It’s a marketing fundamental – price. Setting it incorrectly can destroy any product. My issue has been that the price difference between ‘physical’ and ‘digital’ is inconsistent and damaging. I wrote about it here in relation to e-books but the same is very true of music. Why is a physical CD generally the same price as a digital-download?

If you take the view that a certain section of society still view digital as ‘free’, then the rest of us need to be incentivised into joining the digital revolution. I still have yet to buy an ‘album’ by download because the physical product can often be obtained as cheaply and is far more flexible. My digital purchases have been single or multiple tracks, which leads to the next point.

Singles:

If it’s clear to me that the future of the music industry is in ‘singles’ (for want of a better term), why are the labels and the musicians still not thinking this way? Who is out there putting out a consistent stream of quality singles? The business model is still about the album, but to become established you have to have a great song or a series of great songs.

Much was made of the Beatles appearance in the top sales figures for the last year and decade. Lots of praise was heaped upon them when the re-masters were issued, what few people mentioned was their work-rate. I wrote about that here and the stats are worth re-visiting: The Beatles released twelve original studio albums, thirteen EPs, and twenty-two singles (mainly featuring original music not found on their albums) in just eight years between 1962 and 1970.

Maybe you think the market conditions were different, and maybe they were. Maybe you think The Beatles were unique, and maybe they were. Maybe other bands are moaning too much and not working hard enough?

I may be Devil’s Advocate here, but if it’s now easier to get your music to market – from recording studio to website in under a week is achievable – why are no new bands achieving the same productivity and progression that The Beatles did?

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